Amina K collections are a bold and vibrant pastiche taking catwalks from Cairo to London in new directions, Amina Khalil, the 24-year-old designer behind the boutique label, doesn’t look far to find inspiration.
“I’ve always loved Egyptian styles and fabrics. There is so much we have here in Egypt that no one is aware of — and someone needs to bring it out,” says Khalil. By combining elements of classic Egyptian fashion with a modern approach, she is creating haute couture with a uniquely homespun flair.
What sets Khalil apart from the crowd is her mix of textiles, all of which hail from home. Kheyameya (a fabric used to make tents), silk and wool all find their way into her innovative collections. The results are intricate compositions pushing the boundaries of design in both the East and West.
Take the conventional galabeyya for example. Galabeyyas are usually cut from a single cloth, with little style beyond some embroidering. Known more for practicality and comfort, galabeyyas tend not to be flattering.
But a galabeyya designed by Khalil, which combines floral, striped or Islamic patterns and an array of materials achieves a sense of depth and complexity that belies the galabeyya’s humble origins.
It is this depth, along with the quality of the cuts, that makes her clothes so popular. By exploiting her designs’ versatility, customers are able to essentially create their own unique styles with clothes from her collections.
Amina K designs combine catwalk couture with traditional Egyptian designs.
With many traditional Egyptian patterns in her designs, Khalil’s work seems a natural transition from Cairene culture to high fashion. But that doesn’t mean it happened overnight. The garments that Khalil produces today are the result of her dedication since childhood. Before she was even a teenager, Khalil knew the path she was going to be on.
“I always liked [designing] and I guess my parents saw it, and they supported me. It wasn’t a shock for them to know that I wanted to be in fashion, they always knew that this is what I wanted to do,” she says.
Passion from an early age gave her experience and an edge on her peers, eventually leading her to England. It was there that her dream of becoming a designer turned into a reality. Her initial designs and use of traditional prints captured the attention of London’s fashion elite.
Khalil would occasionally transform her home into an underground showcase for the city’s fashionistas. But after studying fashion design and marketing in London at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the American Continental University, where she produced a thesis on the commercialization of Egyptian style and fabrics, Khalil has come back to her roots.
Her work is now carried in shops from Beirut to the Gulf, but, like the inspiration behind her clothes, Khalil wants to bring the focus back to Egypt. Having pieces sold throughout the region gives her a chance to display the heritage that she is proud of. “Egyptian style is different than the Arab style,” says Khalil. “I wanted to show that it is not the same as Lebanese, it is not the same as Moroccan.” She is currently working towards opening a storefront of her own on Mohandiseen.